GILBOA, Ohio Despite the deaths of four divers at Gilboa Quarry during the last four months, the quarry is as safe a place to dive as any, law enforcement officials and diving instructors said yesterday.
It s not due to the quarry itself, Putnam County Sheriff James Beutler said. It s not entrapment or entanglement.
Diving is an inherently dangerous sport, he said, like rock climbing or skydiving. The quarry is merely the site of the activity, and can only do so much to ensure the safety of the divers.
A 14-acre stone quarry, the site boasts depths of over 130 feet.
When divers enter the quarry, they must show their diving certification card, fill out a diving profile with information about their equipment and intended dives, and sign a liability release that details the quarry s rules.
Based on their certification card and equipment, they wear a wristband with dots, stars, or a stripe that serves as a visual indicator to any instructors in the area of what platforms they are allowed to dive from in the quarry.
Gilboa Quarry polices divers more than most diving spots, insisted Mike Williams, the owner of the quarry.
People have to be responsible for their own actions, he said. Once they re underwater, it s out of our hands.
Visitors to the quarry are responsible for the condition of their equipment and reporting items honestly on their profile.
Equipment must be inspected at local diving centers, where professionals are certified specifically to check equipment, said David Kasper, a certified diving instructor and course director at Eastern Michigan University and Huron Scuba.
Divers also are responsible for being not only properly trained but well-practiced.
Mr. Williams said many divers neglect unpleasant but important drills like flooding their masks. So when it happens, it scares them to death because it s not second nature, he said.
Authorities suspect that icing in the regulators of Sherry Eads, 42, of Brookville, Ohio, and Daniel Frendenberg, 21, of Union, Ohio, may have led to other problems underwater, including diver panic, though the investigation is still under way. They died April 21 after they were pulled from the quarry.
Van A. Losh, 60, of West Alexandria, Ohio, just west of Dayton, a popular diving instructor and constant presence at the quarry, died of natural causes after surfacing from the water on June 22.
The most recent death at the quarry remains unexplained.
Rebecca Budd , 54, of Ashland, Ohio, died Sunday. She was an experienced diver, and authorities found no problems with her diving equipment. Initial autopsy results suggested no health problems, but information from other tests is pending.
The Annual Diving Report published by the Divers Alert Network listed 160 total worldwide diving deaths in 2006, including 53 in the United States.
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